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BURKINA ELECTIONS

Jihadist threat keeps 300,000 voters from Burkina polling stations

Vote counting in progress in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, 22 November 2020.
Vote counting in progress in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, 22 November 2020. © Paulina Zidi/RFI

Hundreds of thousands of voters in Burkina Faso were unable to cast ballots in Sunday's general election because of security threats by jihadist insurgents, according to officials.  

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An undisclosed number of troops were deployed to ensure the security of the presidential and parliamentary polls, which are widely expected to see President Roch Marc Christian Kabore re-elected.

But no votes were cast in one-fifth of the country, where large swathes of territory remain outside the state's control and jihadists strike almost daily.

The Electoral Commission reported that a "certain number" of polling stations for the presidential vote had been closed after threats were made against them.

Commission president Newton Ahmed Barry later told reporters that between 300,000 and 350,000 of about 6.5 million voters had not cast their ballots due to "security threats."

One million displaced by violence

Jihadist-related violence has forced one million people -- five percent of the 20 million population -- from their homes in the last two years and at least 1,200 have been killed since 2015.

The security crisis -- inflamed by the presence of the regional offshoots of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group -- dominated the campaign in the landlocked West African country, one of the world's poorest.

Most of the 12 opposition candidates running against Kabore have criticised the incumbent's failure to stem the bloodshed.

"I hope for a lot of good things for the country: first a president who will be up to the security situation and also deputies who will vote for laws to bring us development," said Ouagadougou resident Christian Koula after voting in the capital.

On Sunday morning, after voting in his district of Ouagadougou, Kabore rejected opposition accusations of fraud at the ballot box.

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